OPSEC as a Defensive Posture
By Capt. Robert A. Slayton, 354th Fighter Wing
/ Published October 06, 2011
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
As the weather starts to grow cold, and Team Eielson gets ready to welcome yet another Alaskan winter, we need to remember to take some time and....watch some football!
While, we're at home rooting for our favorite teams to play better offense or defense, we need to ensure we're playing our best defense to protect Critical Information.
OPSEC is a defensive discipline; it is aimed at thwarting the offensive efforts of a potential adversary. At Team Eielson we play defensive OPSEC by practicing good OPSEC principles, by observing the 100 percent shred policy and using secure communication when necessary, while also instilling the five-step OPSEC process into our everyday lives.
The five-step process includes the identification of critical information, analysis of threats, vulnerabilities analysis, risk assessment and application of appropriate countermeasures.
Offensive disciplines, such as different forms of intelligence gathering, always enjoy an advantage over defensive disciplines like OPSEC. For example, the offense only has to succeed once to be effective, while the defense has to succeed each and every time to enjoy the same success. Also, the adversary's offense only has to find and exploit one weakness in our defensive posture, while the defense has to expend the energy and resources required to defend against all offensive strategies.
Furthermore, the offense learns immediately when it succeeds, while we never know whether our defense is succeeding or not. The defense occasionally finds out when it has failed, but typically this is many years after the fact.
While a coach uses a game plan to win games in the National Football League, we use OPSEC to win the daily battle against persistent adversaries.
Our first play is to remember the purpose of OPSEC is to enhance operational effectiveness. It employs the methodology of intelligence analysis, its point of view is that of an adversary or competitor, its focus is on information critical to that adversary and their purpose and it is unique in that it does not exclude any useful sources of information.
OPSEC specifically protects against inference and is applicable in any competitive situation.
Although usually straightforward and logical, OPSEC is nevertheless difficult to master.
However, since it can yield important and tangible benefits, particularly in today's world of uncertain threats and reduced security resources, mastering OPSEC is worth the effort it takes.
We can start to master OPSEC by following some of the principles identified above, and doing our part to play solid OPSEC defense. By doing this, we can better posture Team Eielson to protect critical information...on and off the field!